If you've ever passed on a promising app or game update because you couldn't find any Wi-Fi and didn't want to eat a huge portion of your data allowance, you're not alone. Some larger apps, especially games, can easily exceed the 1GB mark, and updating them can take a huge toll on your monthly data allowance. Since not everybody out there has Wi-Fi at home, some may even resort to waiting until they're in a place with a public hotspot, like a library, to download their app updates. Google recently rolled out the Delta algorithm to help ease that pain, and is now extending it to any and all data included with a Play Store download, including data like game assets and music.
According to a blog post by Anthony Morris of the Google Play team, the algorithm can reduce the size of a first-time installation by about 12%, and can bring updates down by as much as 65%, for some apps and games. Like any other compression algorithm, it's not perfect and not everything can be compressed all that well, so these numbers may seem a bit underwhelming to wireless customers using outdated apps or even being locked out of their favorite apps. The algorithm, however, is in constant development, like most other Google products, and should improve over time. The blog post also offers a few tips for developers to help pare down their apps a bit.
As well as rolling out the Delta algorithm universally to help with app size issues, Google is rolling out a clearer picture of download size to the Play Store. Users will now see the true download size of an app download or update, rather than just the download size for the APK file. If an app downloads data outside of the Play Store, however, like extra assets for some games like Sonic Runners, for example, the Delta algorithm won't be much help. Still, seeing the true amount of data you're about to commit to, at least in most cases, is a very welcome change and should make the Play Store a bit less of a painful place for those without regular access to Wi-Fi or an unlimited data plan and fast connection.